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WASHINGTON, D.C.: Mexican government officials were breathing easier Friday after President Clinton decided to re-certify the country as an ally in the war against drugs, guaranteeing millions in U.S. aid for at least another year. The decision from the White House came amid mounting Congressional pressure to deny Mexico the status-- and the money that goes with it. On Thursday, 24 Senators signed a letter urging Clinton to decertify Mexico. In the letter, sponsored by California Democrat Diane Feinstein, the group said Mexico's inability to deal with drug trafficking was "overwhelming." The criticism arose primarily from the arrest last week of Mexico's anti-drug czar on charges of taking bribes from drug cartels. But Clinton chose re-certification instead, primarily because to deny Mexico the aid could seriously damage attempts to keep drugs from streaming across the border into the U.S. "It would be difficult to maintain the same level of cooperation when one has received a slap in the face," said Mexican Ambassador Jesus Silva Herzog. The Mexican government brought another trophy to the bargaining table Thursday by capturing Gulf Cartel leader Oscar Malherbe de Leon, head of a major smuggling operation, and destroying a ton of cocaine seized by the Mexican navy on the Yucatan resort island of Cozumel. In announcing the recertification, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright warned today that the decision was made "with firm expectations of further progress in the near term. We expect Mexico to work with us" particularly in "attacking corruption." Albright complained that "corruption is deeply rooted in Mexican counterdrug institutions. Six Mexican attorney generals and five drug czars have come and gone in the last five years, without making major headway against drug barons." In that light, perhaps the best news for a government rocked with corruption charges was this: when caught, de Leon reportedly offered $2 million to the arresting officers -- which they turned down.